In a classic case of missing the forest for the trees, I posted two very wonky, detailed entries over the past couple of days about Minnesota and Connecticut's latest enrollment numbers...but completely missed one crucially important data point.
A couple of days ago I noted that after two years of nothing but doom & gloom (and coming just a week after UnitedHealthcare pulled the plug on the individual market in over two dozen states) there seems to finally be some positive developments, with companies like Centene and Anthem reporting better-than-expected results. They may not be making a profit yet, but at least they aren't losing money hand over fist the way they did the first couple of years.
I also made a brief mention of the Maryland Co-Op, Evergreen Health, which reported their first quarterly profit since launching 2 1/2 years ago.
Consumer operated and oriented health plans in Maryland, New Mexico and Massachusetts will report profits in the first quarter, in a sign that some of the remaining Affordable Care Act-created nonprofits could be finding their footing on the state exchanges.
Ryan wants to end Obamacare cost protections for sick consumers
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan called on Wednesday for an end to Obamacare's financial protections for people with serious medical conditions, saying these consumers should be placed in state high-risk pools.
In election-year remarks that could shed light on an expected Republican healthcare alternative, Ryan said existing federal policy that prevents insurers from charging sick people higher rates for health coverage has raised costs for healthy consumers while undermining choice and competition.
The rule, a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, has been praised by patient advocates for providing access to medical care for people who previously could not afford private health insurance. The Affordable Care Act also bars insurers from excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions.
A few months ago I noted that while UnitedHealthcare and some other carriers may be losing money hand over fist on the ACA exchanges, at least some of them are making a profit, breaking even or at least cutting their losses down to a reasonable level.
As a simple reminder, competitive markets should see some companies make money and some companies that offer more expensive and less attractive products lose money. I would be extremely worried if everyone was making money after three years, just like I would be extremely worried that everyone was losing money after three years of increasingly better data.
Over the past week or two I've been compiling the currently effectuated exchange enrollments for as many states as possible (the official Q1 ASPE effectuation report likely won't be available until early June). So far I have the data from either February, March or April for 7 states: CO, CT, MA, MN, NH, OK and WA.
Today I can add Idaho to the list, and unlike some of the other states, Your Health Idaho's number appears to not only be cut & dry, but very good news indeed:
Hello Mr. Gaba,
Your Health Idaho’s effectuated enrollments for March stand at 95,522. Numbers for April are preliminary at this point.
Iowa’s dominant health insurer has agreed to start selling policies a year from now that qualify for Obamacare subsidies.
Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield has not participated in the Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace, which launched in the fall of 2013. The main effect of the company’s decision was that moderate-income Iowans could not choose Wellmark insurance if they wanted to purchase policies that qualified for new federal subsidies to help pay premiums.
At the time, I noted that unlike most states, their effectuated numbers seem to have increased from February to March (January doesn't really apply since Open Enrollment was still ongoing at the time):
January 2016 Exchange-Based QHP Enrollment: 49,937 (+33,604 PAP enrollees)
February 2016 Exchange-Based QHP Enrollment: 53,109 (+38,735 PAP enrollees)
March 2016 Exchange-Based QHP Enrollment: 55,212 (+43,732 PAP enrollees)
One of the chief arguments in favor of the ACA has always been that uninsured people tend to not get treated for ailments/injuries at all (for obvious reasons), and then end up going to the emergency room when that gangrenous foot leaves them no choice. Not only does this end up costing much more to treat, the hospital is also stuck footing the bill (no pun intended) since the uninsured also tend not to have any money to pay out of pocket either (if they did, the odds are that they'd have some form of insurance, after all).